LinkedIn is a great free platform to build up your work profile. With millions of people all around the world using it to advertise themselves and network with others, it has now become the world’s most prominent platform for creating professional profiles and job hunting. This guide will help you get started.
How does LinkedIn work?
LinkedIn is sort of like a fancy CV: you create a profile that lists all of your skills, work experience, and other interests like volunteering or language skills. You can connect to people you’ve worked with in the past, and employers and recruiters can find your profile while searching for people with certain skills. You can also apply to jobs directly on LinkedIn.
More than just a CV
A CV (or resume, as it’s called in the US) usually is a maximum of 1-2 pages and is still the most usual form of applying for a job. The length means that you can only really list very relevant or your most recent work experience. On LinkedIn, you can log all the work experience you have ever had to build up an in-depth profile. That way, employers can see your entire job history.
You can also use LinkedIn to showcase a digital portfolio which is especially useful if you want to get into the creative sectors.
You can set your profile up so not only can all potential employers see it, but that can actually find it when they're looking for new people to hire. This also means you can use LinkedIn to build up a professional network of connections online. They might be employers, mentors, coaches, or people already in the industry you want to get into. They might share interesting developments in your chosen industry, or even offer you advice and answer your questions.
How to build a LinkedIn profile: the ‘About’ section
This is like the ‘Personal bio’ or ‘Professional profile’ some people have on their CV or Resume. Lots of people refer to this as your ‘personal brand’ and it should represent how you want other people to see you. It's the first thing employers and other LinkedIn users will see about you, so this is your chance to make a good first impression!
It can be tricky to write about yourself without seeming like you’re ‘showing off’. Try answering the questions below to help you come up with 5-7 sentences that will make up your personal brand:
- What makes you unique / sets you apart from other people with your interests or experience?
- What are you passionate about and what do you do to explore this at school, work, or on the weekend?
- What achievements or awards are you proud of?
- What challenges have you faced and how have they shaped who you are today?
- What extracurricular activities do you do and what have you learned from them?
Imagine what you’d like people in a place of work to say about you behind your back or to your supervisor / manager: that’s what your ‘About’ section or personal brand should be.
Still not sure what to write? Check out other LinkedIn users’ ‘About’ sections for inspiration (but don't copy them!).
How to build a LinkedIn profile: the ‘Experience’ section
If you’ve had a job before — paid or unpaid — or are currently working, you can start to add in your work experience to your profile. You can also add voluntary work, or even any relevant activities that have helped you to build employability skills, like The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
When you log your experiences, you should:
- Keep it succinct. Employers will most likely scan over your whole profile, looking for key things they're interested in so keep it short and sweet.
- Mention your skills. You should show off the skills you developed that make you a great candidate, not just what you did or what your role was.
- Consider the role you want. Write about previous experience with this in mind. If you want to work in a specific industry, make sure your experience shows that you've built key skills to support you working in that area.
- Use Unifrog’s Activities and Skills tools. If you’ve been keeping your Activities and Skills up-to-date, now’s the perfect time to take advantage of all that hard work. Look through them and copy the most relevant ones over to LinkedIn.
What else can you add?
- Education: list the qualifications you have achieved so far, or ones you are working towards. Put your most recent qualifications first and don't forget about non-academic qualifications like first-aid or sports coaching certificates.
- Skills: Your skills reflect your ability to perform in a work environment so list as many relevant ones as you can!
- Accomplishments: Won an award? Completed a MOOC? Make sure to add your certificate in here.
- Interests: You’re more than just a piece of paper. What hobbies set you apart?
And that’s it – you’re ready to start connecting with people! If you’re sending a connect request to someone you don’t know very well or haven’t even met, it’s polite to add a short message explaining who you are, the career you’re pursuing, and why you’d like to connect with them.
Some people have a policy of only connecting with those they know personally or have worked with directly, so if you don’t get responses, don’t be discouraged. And don’t worry about rushing to get as many contacts as possible right away: as you move through your career, you’ll naturally gain new connections.